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Islamists attack Egyptian security base

Islamist militants in Egypt have attacked the army’s security headquarters in northern Sinai. Militias have stepped up attacks on the peninsula since the ouster of former leader Hosni Mubarak.

Security sources said on Sunday that the militants climbed onto the roofs of buildings near the headquarters in the town of al-Arish and used their positions to fire rocket-propelled grenades at the complex.

Machine gun battles also took place in the streets around the building, witnesses told the news agency Reuters.

In a separate incident near the Gaza strip, some 30 armored personnel carriers backed up by helicopters fought militants in the town of Sheikh Zuwaid.

The attacks were suspected to have been carried out in revenge for a series of arrests of radical Islamists on Wednesday, an unnamed security official told the German news agency DPA.

That operation was launched in response to an attack on an Egyptian army post in which 16 soldiers lost their lives.

Some 33 militants have been killed since then, with many other suspected militia members arrested.

An international peacekeeping camp came under attack by gunmen on Friday, with the army later restoring control of the area.

Since Mubarak was toppled, militants have conducted a number of raids on security targets as well as on a pipeline that exports gas to Israel.

rc/mkg (dpa, AFP, Reuters)